dolin015: February 2012 Archives

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One of the findings that I found very interesting and, to be honest, hard to get behind is that the "Hot Hand" in sports is actually an illusion. Practically my whole life I have witnessed what I thought was an athlete being "on a roll", "feeling it", "in the zone" and so on and so on. There are even times in my athletic pursuits when I am convinced that I have a hot hand and I just cannot miss. On the converse, I also believed that athletes can have a streak where nothing goes right. I am pretty sure that my athletic career has a lot more cold streaks than hot ones, but still, streaks happen, right? When I found out this was just not true I did not believe it. How can this be a myth!?

As we read in our text, Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University conducted a study that found no evidence for a positive correlation between the success of a player's previous shots to the success of their future shots. I decided to get a hold of this study so I could find out a bit more about their research.

Reading the article and thinking about my reaction to the initial findings actually helped me gain a deeper understanding of believe persistence. Our text has informed us science acts as a good safeguard against our own biases, and after reading this study, I could not agree more. My believe persistence kicked me in the butt initially. I read in our text that the "Hot Hand" is an illusion because a scientific study was done and it found no proof of it's existence. Yet, I did not believe it. My years of supposedly witnessing and feeling the hot hand caused me to doubt scientific data that suggested it was an illusion.

Another aspect that the article included concerns memory bias. The study suggests that people tend to believe in the hot hand because in athletic events a streak is a lot more memorable than a scattered handful of hits and misses. This also now rings true for me. I can remember several basketball games where Rasheed Wallace, my favorite player, was on fire. I also can remember a lot of games where he would not have been able to land a rock in the Grad Canyon. But can I remember one time when he made a few and missed a few, in no particular order? Nope.

So, FINE. I get it now. I did not want to accept the results of this study and now I know why. My belief persistence and memory bias got in the way. I am glad I decided to find out more about this study because it brought up some important things that I will be sure to look out for as I continue to study psychology and how my own biases might prevent me from approaching things in a scientific way.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by dolin015 in February 2012.

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